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Introduction: Tragedy And Hope

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Chapter Summary

One might claim that the idea of the tragic in the age of modernity has been so prominent and persistent for many reasons. The first reason is that tragedy seeks to replace religion in a secular age. Secondly, tragedy promises to provide an aesthetic solution to the question of why it is that men and women seem everywhere free yet everywhere in chains. Thirdly, tragedy has acted as a kind of modern-day theodicy or justification of evil. There is, however, a much more important reason for the persistence of the idea of the tragic, and that is what one might call tragic theory as a form of Kulturkritik. An incoherence in the body of theory is its attitude to hope. It must reject any form of vulgar progressivism, which is why George Steiner seems to derive a grisly relish from the fact that tragedy is utterly negative.

Keywords: age of modernity; George Steiner; Kulturkritik; modern-day theodicy; religion; tragedy



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